Turkmenistan to amend constitution to extend president’s term

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ASHGABAT (TCA) — Turkmen state media are reporting that a “public discussion” of constitutional amendments aimed at extending the President’s term of office and dropping the age limit for presidential candidates has been launched in Turkmenistan.

The amendments provide for extending the presidential term of office from five to seven years and scrapping the 70-year age limit for candidates, RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reports.

On February 2, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov signed a resolution “on approving and initiating a nationwide discussion of Turkmenistan’s draft Constitution”. The draft was published by the country’s main state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan on February 15 for nationwide discussion.

The changes apparently seek to strengthen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s nine-year grip on power in the authoritarian Central Asian country.

The next presidential elections are set for 2017, when Berdymukhammedov’s current five-year term ends and the president, now 58, will face reelection.

At the meeting of the Constitutional Commission for the improvement of the Constitution, held on February 2, the Turkmen leader said it is necessary to more clearly define the status of permanent neutrality of Turkmenistan in the Constitution, the State News Agency of Turkmenistan reported.

The “discussion” was launched in Turkmenistan as lawmakers in neighboring Tajikistan set the date for a referendum on constitutional amendments that would allow the Tajik president to run an indefinite number of times.

Sergey Kwan

TCA